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Lessons Learned from Surfside and How Your HOA Can Prevent Maintenance Damage

The tragedy of the Surfside collapse has left a permanent impact on not just Florida condos and their associations, but nationwide as well. We can all agree that this should never have happened, but the least we can do now is learn from it to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

40 Year Recertifications and Structural Integrity

Even a building that starts out with perfect structural integrity is being constantly attacked by the elements that seem to be actively trying to weaken it. Here in South Florida, our elements are especially aggressive. Storms are a part of that, but salt, sand, and moisture are the everyday attackers that tend to do more damage over time. As buildings age they require more and more maintenance in order to keep up. Deferring maintenance on anything related to the structural integrity of the property is just not an option. It’s not a bad idea to go through a process similar to the 40 Year Recertification process more regularly to catch any engineering issues early – even if it doesn’t lower the cost, it helps the Association plan their budget accordingly.

Condo boards and associations need to be proactive with their annual budgets to be certain that funds exist for planned maintenance, along with a realistic emergency fund to cover anything that might come up unexpectedly. 

Plan Ahead for 40 Year Recertification

If you have any visible issues – for example a rust mark that penetrates the concrete – you should contact an engineer for an assessment right away. That is not the kind of concern that can wait until your required 40 Year Recertification.

Even if recertification seems like it’s a long way away, it’s never too early to start squirreling away funds to cover it when it comes up. You should be able to create a fund within your budget for that purpose that would also allow you to access it in the meantime if you need to deal with any issues that the property would need to handle in the future. Check your CC&Rs to be sure there’s nothing that would prevent such a fund. The goal here is to address problems well ahead of recertification so as to avoid upgrades and repairs that exceed the nest egg you’ve saved to cover them. 

If you need assistance going through your CC&Rs or creating your annual budget, having an attorney on retainer can be a lifesaver. I work with HOAs regularly and being on retainer allows me to be available to them when they need me. If you have not already retained an attorney and would like to discuss the process and the cost, give me a call at Dania Fernandez and Associates, P.A. and we will set up an appointment.

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